LAHORE - While appreciating Pakistan’s efforts for restoring peace and promoting interfaith harmony in the region, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday expressed his optimism that Kartarpur Corridor would open up new avenues for peace, tolerance, love and brotherhood not only in the region but also the world over.

He stressed this point during his visit to Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, recently developed and opened up by Pakistan for the Sikh community as part of its efforts to promote peace in the region. Federal Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri also accompanied him.

The UN Secretary-General termed the Kartarpur Corridor Project a glaring example of Pakistan’s efforts for peace and interfaith harmony in the world in general and in the region in particular.Wearing an orange scarf, a tenet of Sikh religion, Antonio Guterres took a round of various sections of Darbar Sahib. He was also served with traditional food at lunch. A good number of Sikh Yatrees from India were also present. The UN chief appreciated the facilities being provided by the Pakistan government to Sikh Yatrees (pilgrims) at Darbar Sahib Kartarpur.

Earlier, Antonio Guterres was welcomed by All Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee and Evacuee Trust Property Board officials who also briefed him about the project and the agreement reached between Pakistan and India to open the corridor.

He was told that Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken the initiative of Kartarpur Corridor Project to facilitate the Sikh community of India and the rest of the world.

SEMINAR AT LUMS

READ MORE: Clear negligence

Also, the UN Secretary-General addressed a seminar on "Role of the youth in UN of the 21st Century” at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) here. He also took questions from students at the end.

Replying to a question on the prevailing situation in Indian Held Kashmir, Antonio Guterres said that the people of Kashmir had every right to humane treatment and protection of their political rights and fundamental freedoms.  “Human rights are not political rights but there are political, economic and social rights and some of the political rights have been pushed back”, he stated. Answering another question, the UN Secretary-General lamented that civic space was shrinking in many societies as more human rights activists were in prisons today.  He said that young people could play a vital role in safeguarding human rights in societies. He stressed the need for greater youth participation and gender parity within political systems and international organisations in order to address issues like global warming, unfair globalization, unregulated new technologies and conflicts in the world.

He said that it had become all the more important to engage young people in order to promote institutional dialogue in democracies, adding, that “permanent inter-flow of communication between the political society and civil society was the basis of the modern democratic system”.
The UN Secretary-General said that the presence of youth in the power corridors was absolutely essential because it was the domain where the decisions were made, policies were defined and actions were implemented.

He admitted that his generation had failed to achieve the desired goals in reversing emergency in climate change, fair distribution of resources to all segments of societies, regulating new technologies and avoiding conflicts.
The UN Secretary-General termed climate change the defining issue of the age and deplored that political leaders of the world lacked the political will to reverse the climate emergency being citizens of a global world.

He noted that today’s world was faced with the challenges of a record increase in levels of gaseous emissions, rising temperatures and soaring water levels due to the melting of glaciers.

“There is a war between humans and nature and nature is striking back with enormous power”, he said, adding that world powers had not yet taken necessary decisions to reverse this effect.
On UN’s role to address this issue, he said: “The world body must ensure that the temperatures don’t rise more than 1.5 degrees, and the carbon emission remains low in the next decade.”

He said that UN’s ‘Youth Climate Summit’ in September last year was a means to force politicians to understand that things must change on the climate change. 
Stressing the need for mobilisation of the youth, Guterres said that it was important because the climate challenges were to effect more adversely to the young generations in the coming decades.
On globalization, he said that despite the fact that it had produced enormous benefits in terms of global trade, it had increased the poverty levels which had come as a threat to social cohesion in societies.

He asked the governments, across the globe, to formulate economic and social strategies to provide a framework for globalization so that it was beneficial to all segments of societies.
“If the things moved in the current manner, the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 will not be met”, he added.

Giving his views on the emancipation of women, Guterres urged the need to ensure parity to the women in the world affair.

He noted that women were playing the role they should play in the world matters. He believed that male-dominated global society had failed to check the conflicts for its being more aggressive.

He also said that the presence of women in international bodies had the compassion to control the permanent cycles of conflict.
Guterres told the audience that the UN was evolving a strategy to ensure the equal role of men and women in all world bodies by 2028. He said that he had appointed an equal number of men and women as Assistant Secretary Generals and Under Secretary Generals to ensure equality among the sexes.

NEED FOR REGULATING TECHNOLOGY
Urging the need to regulate modern technologies, Guterres said that the youth had a key role to play as the world regulates or devises a mechanism to check the wrong use of modern technologies. “The digital society; artificial intelligence and genetic engineering have become a problem for the world societies”, he added.

He went on to state that: “Many things could become a nightmare if they are not properly regulated and the new technologies like the internet and cyberspace could become a tool for terrorists if not properly channeled”.

He said that he wanted a ban on automatic weapons as these killed people indiscriminately. He said that the inclusion of the youth in decision-making was vital as the new generations were more exposed to the threats by the new technologies if not properly regulated.
He said that criminal organizations used the internet and cyberspace to divide societies and the youth must have a fundamental voice and role to overcome these challenges.
To another question, he said that the UN was taking steps to ensure equality among the people as well as the equality among the states. “Power has to be taken, it is not given”, he said, adding, that the UN system was evolved after WW-II and it must not disconnect with the people; otherwise, it would create mistrust.

On regulating social media, the UN General Secretary suggested a multi-stakeholder approach to adopt new laws. He said that companies were averse to regulation until a decade ago but today an organization like Microsoft was asking for regulations. He said the UN had constituted a high level of committee to recommend to the UN a more flexible mechanism from lawyers, companies and civil society.

CLIMATE CONTROL

Talking about the single-use plastics ban, Guterres said that it posed a great threat to the environment, adding, that most countries had banned the use and Pakistan was one of those. “Rawanda, an African country, banned single-use plastics some 15 years ago”, he said.

He said that plastics posed a very serious problem under the seas with micro-plastics and nano-plastics. He urged the governments to ban it across the globe.


ANTI - POLIO CAMPAIGN

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that fatal disease of polio could effectively be fought out through joint and concerted efforts.

Talking to the official media after administering the anti-polio vaccine to children up to five years of age at a private school in DHA area, UN Secretary-General said, “Together, we can eliminate polio from across the world, and I appeal to all the world leaders to join hands to fight out polio.”

UN Secretary-General appreciated the government of Pakistan as well as Punjab government’s efforts to control hazardous poliovirus, stating, “I am glad to be here in Pakistan. I am here in solidarity with anti-polio workers, who rendered even their lives for this noble cause of humanity.”

Antonio Guterres further stated that eradication of polio from the world was his topmost priority for which the UN had been putting in comprehensive measures.

Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid and high officials of relevant departments were also present.